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For more than twenty years, Torre and David Solazzo have crafted an idyllic small-town life while bringing big, new flavors to Covington diners – first, at their fine-dining establishment, Del Porto Ristorante, and more recently at their gastropub, The Greyhound. Torre and David are both professionally trained chefs whose romance began in 1999, when they worked side-by-side on the line at Tra Vigne, one of Northern California’s most prestigious restaurants at the time.
We sat down together in our Louisiana Eats studios to hear the full story of how two of the Northshore’s favorite restaurants came to be. The whole family gets in on the act – even the Solazzos’ only child, 11-year-old Evelyn – who seems to love the restaurant business as much as Mom and Dad.
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Ristorante del Porto
501 E. Boston St., Covington, 985.875.1006
David and Torre Solazzo’s Italian restaurant has been a Covington fixture since the turn of the century, just not always in the same way.
The first version was a 10-table storefront opened in 2002. That’s where the married chefs, who met while working at the well-regarded Napa Valley restaurant Tra Vigne, test-drove their notion that a region besotted with red sauce was ready for handmade pappardelle, rabbit ragu and duck confit ravioli.
After the Solazzos moved del Porto to its current, larger address in 2006, it became impossible to argue that there was a restaurant serving more accomplished Italian food on either side of Lake Pontchartrain.
The competition has stiffened and diversified in recent years, as the pan-regional, ingredient-driven Italian food championed by del Porto has gone mainstream and, more recently, turned downscale. Del Porto has remained steady all the while, an elegant neighborhood restaurant that just happens to be in a small town. On many nights, even after a 2015 expansion, it feels like most of that town is here, appreciating the ongoing blossoming of this restaurant’s early promise.
Open: Lunch and dinner Tues-Sat. Parking: Street.
Entree prices: $18-$35. Reservations: Yes.
Standout dishes: Grilled pears with prosciutto, Gulf fish crudo, tagliatelle with shrimp, vegetable cannelloni, wine-braised short ribs, cornmeal shortcake
For Bayou charm, skip bland, boozy Bourbon Street and the voodoo tourist traps of New Orleans and head across the causeway to the other side of Lake Pontchartrain. The Northshore region was rocked by Hurricane Katrina but has undergone a serious rebirth in the past couple of years. In Covington, rent a set of wheels from Brooks’ Bike Shop and hop on the Tammany Trace, a 27-mile rail trail that weaves through the wetlands. Pull off in Abita Springs, where Abita Beer is brewed with the namesake springwater. If it’s a Saturday night, stick around for a bluegrass show at the Abita Opry. If not, head back to Covington to fill up on salumi and mussels at Del Porto, then sip a Sazerac at the Cypress Bar in the century-old Southern Hotel. —Cheney Gardner
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on August 12, 2015 at 9:59 AM, updated August 13, 2015 at 4:53 PM
501 East Boston St., Covington, 985.875.1006
The fine north shore Italian restaurant has expanded, again. And again, I look back on a fine meal that brought stiff competition for the highlight reel. Yes, chefs and co-owners David and Torre Solazzo are typically at their best in the spring-summer, when the local produce hits a peak. But on some nights, the heart desires nothing so much as a perfect Caesar salad, and this was one of those nights.